Teuntje Vosters

A history of NGOs and refugee policy in Europe

In 2015, Over 1 million asylum seekers sought protection in the EU. The ‘refugee crisis’ has led to Euro-scepticism and a normative quest for good governance in which civil society – of which Non-Governmental refugee Organisations (NGOs) are the most visible representatives – is allotted a crucial role. In recent decades there has been an explosion in the number of NGOs, and European and national authorities have actively involved NGOs in the drafting of refugee policies. Politicians involve them to gain and enforce the democratic legitimacy of the EU. Rather surprisingly there are not yet any studies that analyze, from a long-term and historical perspective, the effect of this involvement. If NGOs are key players, it is pertinent to know how the interaction between NGOs and policy makers works, and how, when and why it has worked in the past. This is what I will be doing in my PhD project, which I started in January this year; I analyze the history of NGOs and their influence over time. During this talk I will introduce myself and the project.


Russian refugees between railroad cars of a freight train during the Civil War in Russia 1919.